Lewis Capaldi offers comedy and tragedy at Greek Theatre

Lewis Capaldi was always destined to play venues like the Greek Theatre and on Wednesday, he took his many powerful songs and witty banter there for a sold-out show. He actually plays arenas now in Europe (and he appeared at Jingle Ball in December 2022 at Crypto.com Arena among many other U.S. arenas), but more on that later from the singer himself. The hits were sung throughout the show and so were some new tracks off forthcoming album Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent, due May 19 including “Forget Me,” “Pointless”, “How I’m Feeling Now” and the brand new tear-jerker “Wish You The Best.” Capaldi always impresses with his gargantuan vocals and to ease into the drama of some of them, like a few other UK artists (Adele comes to mind), he’s got all kinds of naughty musings and stories to keep his audiences on their toes. 

Alaskan artist Medium Build opened the show (one of 10 dates on the west coast and TX, while Em Beihold handled the other North American dates). Medium Build is the artist name for singer and guitarist Nick Carpenter who was bespectacled in yellow glasses, joined by two musicians on the minimalist stage, delighting on indie-pop song “Be Your Boy.” His big song “Rage” was a pleasant down-tempo dream-pop tune which followed a moment where Carpenter encouraged the crowd to scream and yell and release their stress of the world. New song “Especially Me” about friendship was an inspiring folk-pop tune with wonderful acoustic guitar and an inviting vocal, with humming synth and Carpenter going wild on guitar by the song’s end. “comeonback” concluded the set with its groovy, indie-rock vibes and Carpenter leaving the stage saying, “Thanks, bitches.”

Lewis Capaldi‘s headlining set offered an impressive light show opening with four separate staged areas and flashing shapes accompanying string instruments over the soundsystem. Pink and blue pulsing lights flashed over the four band members for Lewis Capaldi’s opening song, the refreshing mid-tempo “Forget Me,” casually taking the stage in a navy jacket and white pants while fans rose to their feet singing back as two of the musicians sang background on the catchy new pop song. On the ballad “Forever,” the Scottish singer was found center stage at the mic with his guitar and a cloud above him on the single screen. Capaldi’s voice was especially pure and in the groove on this one as the lights went red for the second chorus and the crowd was loving it.

“It’s fucking cold!,” exclaimed Capaldi. “Why?” After a slight pause he said, “It’s good to be back at the Greek Theater.” It was the first of a few moments where the singer was messing with the crowd, talking about ancient Greece saying that “tiny penises were all the rage.” He added, “I was born in the wrong era.” The self-deprecating humor continued and he said with “about 6,000 people in the crowd, 100 might be disappointed.” He mentioned playing arenas in the UK and Europe (which only emphasizes his appeal globally) but how it was nice to see the faces in this instance. “I do not do it for the money, I do it for the fame and the ladies.” He added, “I have a lot of songs for the sad, lonely motherfuckers,” after asking who is in a relationship and who is single. It was a chorus of laughs followed by early 2017 tune “Lost On You,” accompanied simply by his pianist, as Capaldi belted the hell out of the vocal with spectacular, soulful runs, vocal dynamics and precision. The crowd screamed and applauded too soon and Capaldi endearly said (mid-song), “Song’s not done, shut the fuck up.” It’s a fine line for a jokester like Lewis Capaldi who totally pulled off the hushing like a true divo. Another early song “Fade” was met with gentle piano with ocean waves brewing on the screen above Lewis, melodically turning to its bright spot with ease and an awesome bassline and popping drums made it a special moment.

In a split second Capaldi can go from humor to an emotional song to something light and back to a panging comment, saying “Before You Go” is “about my dead aunt.” The lyric “Time can heal but this won’t” brought the mood back down as the guitars twinkled, juxtaposing a glimpse of hope against another powerful vocal. Capaldi gave his fans a chance to sing back and said, “What the fuck is that?,” clearly not impressed with the LA crowd’s knowledge of his lyrics. He did another chorus and let the fans sing and said “WTF” again, guiding them humorously through the words and the whole thing was hysterical. A new way to tackle a depressing yet amazing song. Breakthrough single “Bruises” had strings kicking off the delicate ballad, with the audience singing along. Capaldi’s hair was tousled in the wind and he smashed it on the lyric “there must be something in the water, because every day it’s getting colder” as his rock-leaning soul voice broke magnificently. Fans sang the chorus in unison and it was beautiful, with just keys and a hint of gospel built into the bones of the song.

Lewis Capaldi talked about always wanting to go viral on TikTok and never realized he would make children cry with his new music video. It was another angel vs. devil moment of humor and sadness, as the video of new single “Wish You The Best” pictures a man and a dog and the man eventually dies. It was one of the most emotional performances of the night and one of the best, at times funny, but with Capaldi’s raw power and the sad video making it especially memorable. Mid-tempo “Grace” got the fans singing along once again, hopping to the beat as red light enveloped the stage. Capaldi introduced another fantastic new single “Forget Me” saying he wrote the next song with his red-haired friend Ed Sheeran. Capaldi then added, “he’s in New York…ladies and gentlemen, Chris Martin,” messing with the crowd again. “Pointless” was a complete master class in singing, with the piano, guitars and drums blending. The songwriting alone is stellar but the vocal was topped off with the crowd joining in on the bridge. “Everything is pointless without you, bitch!,” Capaldi sang at the end.

Playing electric guitar for “Hold Me While You Wait,” Capaldi had another solid vocal, with the song sounding like an arena rock moment, as strobe lights flashed in red and white. The extended instrumental was uplifting and the star strummed solo by the end with the musicians having vanished from the stage and Lewis holding out a huge note. It was a perfect book-end to his set and for the encore, Capaldi played acoustic by himself for fourth new song “How I’m Feeling Now,” with a little angsty energy, reminiscing 90s Green Day or Goo Goo Dolls, with his voice filling up the space and the crowd joining in. The singer-songwriter reminded fans about the new album and said, “Thank you so much, I everything to ya. Hopefully it won’t be long before I’m back in LA.” He added, “That song by the way has almost got about 1B streams, that’s about one for every time I slept with every one of your mothers.” After more laughter, the hum from the crowd took over the entire outdoor venue as Capaldi concluded with “Someone You Loved,” sounding more than ever like a prayer, with the audience taking over for an a cappella moment at the end.

Words by Michael Menachem
Images by Zoe Sher